Email Anatomy 101

In order to graduate high school (however many years ago that was), my classmates and I were required to take a biology class. It was pretty interesting, fun, and maybe slightly disgusting at times.  On lab days, students were either wide-eyed and amazed, or cowering in the corner of the class room getting sick.  While dissecting fetal pigs and cat eyeballs may not have been your subject, or even helped you in your career, dissecting a good email will reveal the building blocks to creating successful campaigns for your business. Scalpel please.


Let’s start from the top, or the addressing of an email:

From: The “from” label is a key element, as your readers need to know who sent them the email.  This is the very first thing subscribers look at in order to determine if they should open the email or not. In our experience, we have found that sending emails from an actual person’s name increases both open and click through rates.  People feel a more personal connection to your email when they receive it from “George” than they do from Company X, or worse, “”.

To: The “to” field should be personalized to the recipient’s name if possible.
Subject: Make sure you’ve come up with a compelling subject line that is informative, short, and engaging. Don’t use ALL CAPS or spammy words. Remember, if you don’t capture your target’s attention in the subject line, they are never going to see any other part of your email!


Here’s where we get into the core of the email itself. In the image below, you will find 10 critical components to a successful email and details to help you understand the strategy behind each.

1. It’s probably a good idea to include a link to an online version of your email due to possible rendering issues and image blocking within numerous email service providers. Think of it as a nice insurance policy to have since CSS/HTML renders differently across all platforms.

2. Make sure your email marketing templates flaunt your company brand.  You want people opening your email to recognize who you are and remember why they signed up in the first place. Include your company colors, logo, and other important branding elements.  But don’t overdo it. Pay attention to how long it takes to download your email messages.

3. Here is where you will describe the content or purpose of the email to motivate your audience. This plays a major role in engaging your recipients.

4. Incorporate relevant images.  Visual cues are great tools to ensure your email engages your audience.  People generally like pictures better. We recommend matching your graphics with the content you’re offering. Because let’s face it, we know people judge a book by its cover. So if your offering a whitepaper download or ebook, make sure you have a nice image of the cover to encourage that click.

5. Web users want to be recognized, catered to, and served personally. By simply including a person’s first name in your email greeting, you can significantly boost your email clickthroughs. Additionally, instead of just adding a first name to your greeting, think of ways to develop targeted content for different audience segments.  Developing personalized emails based on your audience behaviors and interests is a great way to gain a competitive advantage.

6. Your subheading text should immediately address what your offer is and why it’s valuable to your subscriber. Adding the value proposition for your offer as the first sentence in the email copy is the best way to accomplish this.

7. To highlight on the value proposition, you should clearly indicate what email recipients will get if they take action and/or incorporate statistics to emphasize the problem you are solving. Make sure to use short sentences and paragraphs and utilize design elements like spacing and dividing lines to distinguish content. Using bullet points is a great way to showcase benefits, as well as bold typeface and sub headers to make certain content stand out.

8. All emails should have an obvious, focused call-to-action. Whether it’s to download an offer, sign up for a webinar, or purchase a product, the CTA should be prominently displayed. Make sure your call-to-action button is visually distinct from the rest of the email, and keep the button copy short, sweet, and to the point. In general, CTA wording should run between 90 and 150 characters and include explanatory subjects and verbs.

9. You will want to include your company’s basic contact information to allow your users other methods of getting in touch with you, especially all applicable social sharing buttons /links. These are great tools for expanding your email marketing and reaching new potential leads. Rather than seeing the two channels as competitors (email vs. social), savvy digital marketers should use social media to compliment and magnify their email efforts.

10. The final elements to include in your email are the reminder as to why your subscriber is receiving the email, and the unsubscribe link should they change their minds. People have a notoriously short memory when it comes to what they’ve signed up for so acknowledging why they are receiving the email reduces anxiety and concern. And sending an email without an unsubscribe link violates CAN-SPAM regulations which can significantly damage your credibility.

While it certainly isn’t biology, there is some science to creating effective email campaigns. By keeping these 10 components in mind, you can begin to create more compelling and stellar emails.

About Author

staff at
Our marketing team is always on the prowl for useful facts and internet tidbits. Be sure to check our blog often for all of our updates and posts!

Featured Posts